Skip to main content

Save Ferris: The Power of a PLN

This will be my 15th year of teaching coming up, and I have learned so much the past three years compared to all of my previous years of teaching. The difference? Building and engaging a professional learning network (PLN). Connecting with fellow educators from around the world via Twitter, Google+, Voxer, Pinterest, and attending conferences (on my list for this coming year is to attend at least one edcamp) has not only given me new ideas and a much deeper knowledge base, but it has also deepened my passion for teaching and learning. 
Building my PLN has been the single best thing I have done in my career so far for me and my students. After participating in Twitter chats like #paedchat, #personalizedpd, and a few others, I went into work excited every day this year past year, and I cannot wait for the next school year to begin. There was not one day I did not feel like not going in. There was not one "mental health day" I felt I needed to take. There was not one question that I did not think that could not be answered by someone in my PLN. There was not one hurdle I did not think that could not be overcome with the help of my PLN. 
So with all the fantastic ways collaborating and communicating with others has affected me, why would I not allow my students the same opportunity? If collaborating and communicating with others is such a positive and meaningful experience, why keep it to ourselves? Why are we hesitant to give up that control in our classroom? Why keep our students from working together on a regular basis when employers want employees who have good interpersonal skills and the willingness to listen and work with others?
Imagine if students were excited to come into school every day to collaborate, communicate, and learn. Imagine if students did not feel the need to try to pull the old Ferris Bueller sick day. Imagine if students felt that no question was too hard for them because they knew they could rely on their PLN to help them through. Imagine if they truly had the love for learning. Imagine if they felt they wanted to go to school, rather than had to go to school.  
This coming school year, I want to help my 6th grade students build their PLN of sorts. I want to begin to show them how powerful collaborating and communicating can be, and how relevant their learning will become as a result. To help my students get started on their own PLN, I intend to use Google Classroom, Padlet, Kidblog, and try to do a few Mystery Skypes and Google Hangouts. The more they can make strong, positive connections, the more they can begin to feel that connection to their learning. 
If one is not part of a PLN, it might be difficult to understand the impact it can make. In order to understand how powerful a PLN can be, one has to become part of one. Take some time at first to checkout different social media outlets and different topics of your interest and then engage. Sure it will feel uncomfortable at first, and it might take one out of one's comfort-zone, but that is a good thing. That is where the growth is, and your students, even Ferris, will thank you for it.  

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Not Just Any Summer Assignment: A VR Summer Learning Experience

This summer, I intend to go to Disney World and other parts of Florida, the Outer Banks, Ocean City, New York City, a Kansas City Royals baseball game, the Grand Canyon, the White House, a NHL Finals game, a cruise, and I plan to go to all of those places without leaving my house. How? With the Cardboard Camera app, Google Cardboard, and Google Classroom. I have given my sixth grade students one last assignment, and this assignment will run all summer long. Their assignment is to bring along their classmates on their summer vacation trips using the Cardboard Camera app, by uploading their images to Google Classroom for their classmates and myself to view on our Google Cardboards (we had a Google Cardboard make and take night in early May, so the students are really into VR now), and finally collaborating on a Google Slide (Take Us With You On Vacation). Benefits to this assignment: 1. Let's start with the obvious. It is really cool. Who doesn't want to try out VR? The students ab…

My First Few Weeks as Elementary Principal

On January 23rd, my 15-year career as a classroom teacher changed dramatically, as I began a new role as interim principal in one of my district's elementary schools. Then on January 24th, my wife and I celebrated our third child being born. It was a week full of emotions but most of all excitement.  Being a father of two, I knew what to expect with our third child. Late night feedings, sleepless nights, changing diapers (lots of diapers), and a return to the 5S's. But being a first-time principal, it was a lot like being a first-time parent. You could read all the books and get all the advice, but until you actually went through it, you couldn't really understand it.  Much like bringing my first child home from the hospital after she was born, I had some, well a lot, of anxiety going into my first day as principal. I had scheduled a full faculty meeting to introduce myself, and while I was only an interim principal in another principal's building, I still had to be myse…

Enter The Twilight Zone with Blended Learning

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension - a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into the Twilight Zone. 
I feel that opening part of the show The Twilight Zone directly relates to my school year this year. This is my second full year of running a blended learning classroom, and I feel as if in some way my sixth-grade students and I have crossed over into the Twilight Zone. Strange but wonderful things are happening in and out of my classroom, that I have not, unfortunately, witnessed before in my 15 years of teaching. Students are embracing the idea that learning can take place anywhere, anytime and that their voice matters to others, as they enter a whole other dimension in Google Classroom. They are seeing learning opportunities on their own outside of the school day and wanting to share their experiences wit…